Dora Maar, Pére Ubu, 1936

Part Ten Chapter 11

̶  Imagine her jet-black hair and ruby-red nails, her glowing skin and dark eyes; imagine the flash of the dagger as time and again she stabs it between her fingers. Picasso wanted to change his life, he was ready to fall in love. That afternoon on the terrace of the Deux-Magots was when Dora Maar seduced him.

Over the meal, we spoke of the master and his mistress: In your purse you’d discovered a bookmark from the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

Dora Maar, Untitled (Main-coquillage), 1934

Dora Maar, 29 rue d’Astorg, 1936

̶  What I don’t get, Sprague, is why as soon as his women got close to him, he turned them into doormats.
̶  They weren’t all like Dora Maar. Françoise Gilot never let him wipe his shoes on her. And Jacqueline Roque always had the upper hand. She appealed to the worst in him, and it worked. She didn’t commit suicide until thirteen years after he died.
̶  And what about Marie-Thérèse Walter?
̶  She hanged herself four years after Picasso’s death.
̶  But Dora—
̶  She said, ‘After Picasso, there is only God’. She sought refuge in religion.
̶  What a man! But why did he go in for this goddess-to-doormat thing? Why would he need to abuse and humiliate?
̶  He had a genius for manipulation. Never allowed himself to be vulnerable, always insisted on complete control. What’s behind that, we’ll never know.

“While Maar was considered an influential Surrealist photographer, most of her work vanished from the public eye once she stopped creating it in the late 1930s. Now, this volume restores her photographs to their place in history, featuring a treasure trove of … never-before-published images.”

« Pervers ? sans doute, mais grandiose. Certes, hanté par un traumatisme précoce autant que par un prurit de création. Dès lors, il rejette les autres, les pères : faire mieux ; rejette les femmes : faire mieux, les déposséder de ce pouvoir de fascination qu’elles exercent en les possédant et les détruisant. Rejeter le monde : faire mieux que Dieu, jouir sans entrave, de soi, de la vie recréée à neuf, instrumenter la mort, la toréer. »

Barus-Michel, Jacqueline, « Perversion et sublimation », Revue internationale de psychosociologie, 19/2002 (Vol. VIII), p. 157-175

“Perverse? No doubt, but grandiose. Haunted, certainly, by an early trauma as much as by a compulsion to create. The die cast, from then on he rejects others. Fathers: do better than them. Women: dispossess them of their power to fascinate by possessing and destroying them. And he rejects the world: do better than God, jouir without limits—of oneself, of life recreated anew—and make an instrument of death, play matador to it.”

Barus-Michel, Jacqueline (ibid.), tr. Richard Jonathan

[Jouir, the pursuit of jouissance: the desire to break through the pleasure principle; the path towards death. See Evans, Dylan, An  Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis (London: Brunner-Routledge, 2001), pp. 91-92

Woman’s Art Jounal

Grace Hartigan, Bride and Owl, 1954
Cover, Woman’s Art Journal, Fall/Winter 2013 Vol. 34 No. 2

Read online: ‘Dora Maar and the Art of Mystery’ by Julie L’Enfant

Mara Marietta